Claiming that his Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) has gained significantly in strength in Bihar, Union minister Upendra Kushwaha has demanded that the party be allotted more than three seats in the state by the NDA to contest the 2019 Lok Sabha election.
"My party had contested three Lok Sabha seats in 2014, but now its strength and base have increased...Our party should be given more than three seats after making a neutral assessment of its strength," Kushwaha told reporters at the RLSP office here Friday.
The Union minister of state for human resource development said there was little doubt that the RLSP had gained in strength, but how much could be a matter of debate.
Replying to a query, Kushwaha admitted that he had raised the demand for more seats with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) general secretary and Bihar in-charge Bhupendra Yadav. If need be, he said, he would also speak to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the matter.
Kushwaha said the seat-sharing issue between the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) partners in Bihar -- the BJP, the JD(U), the RLSP and the LJP -- was not finalised yet, otherwise it would have been announced.
On October 26, BJP chief Amit Shah had announced that the saffron party and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal (United) would contest an equal number of seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha election in Bihar.
He said the JD(U) chief should retract the statement or explain what he actually meant.
On the seat-sharing issue, with a particular reference to the RLSP, Kumar had recently told a television news channel, "Do not take the debate to such a low level."
Kushwaha said he felt the remark was laden with casteist overtones.
"I am extremely hurt and pained by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's statement, in which he referred to me as 'neech'. The kind of language he has used for me is intolerable. He should withdraw his statement," he said.
"I am being asked to make sacrifices for the new entrant, the JD(U), to the NDA fold, but the RLSP was ignored when the benefits (in terms of ministerial berths in the Nitish cabinet) were to be distributed among the partners," the Union minister added.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)